Austin Ekeler’s fantasy football impact and outlook for 2020. The Counselor breaks it down for you and lets you know if you should draft this man.
Joseph Robert, the Fantasy Football Counselor. In this article, we’re talking about Austin Ekeler and his Fantasy Football 2020 outlook and impact. I got to talk about this guy who is currently sitting right now as ninth. Yes, the top 10 in the consensus. I want to tell you guys if he’s really fool’s gold similar to the way Damien Williams was last year, or is he the real deal going into the 2020 NFL season? Because a lot of people are going to be drafting this guy and they’ll be drafting him pretty early. I’m going to let you guys know if I would invest and then you guys can make a better-educated decision once I lay out all the facts. Huge episode here and if you aren’t following the Fantasy Impact Series and you’re here on YouTube, there’s a link here below. Get all the Impact videos. I keep adding all of the players so that you guys can make proper decisions when you’re drafting them, laying it all out, and I’m giving you guys my analysis at the end of this show here, my verdict on if I would draft a player or not.
Austin Ekeler Fantasy Numbers
So first and foremost, let’s talk about the stats from last year and his stats in general. I’m going to pull them up here for myself so that I’m looking at them. Now, I want you guys to note something and I want to put in a disclaimer here and I want everybody to know Austin Ekeler is not Alvin Kamara. I got to say that right off the bat because a lot of people are drafting him thinking he is the next Kamara, and he could be, but he is going into his fourth season. This isn’t like season one or two, he’s coming out, he’s broken out and he looks amazing. He had 285 attempts in three years. That’s three years combined. You’re saying, “Well, Joe, I know now he’s finally come into his own. That’s phenomenal.” Listen, he’s not a full and true workhorse running back. In PPR formats, he’s good. He finished fourth in PPR in 2010, he has played 16 games so durability is there, but you got to understand guys, the attempts and the volumes as a pure rusher is not going to be there. He’s going to be accompanied by somebody, someone’s going to be there that’s going to be taking away the volume. This year, they drafted Joshua Kelly. Could he be a thorn? Yes, he could be. So Austin Ekeler was a guy that was a backup to Melvin Gordon for years and he had a great season in 2019. As I said, don’t get me wrong, phenomenal numbers from a fantasy perspective, in fact so much so that he finished fourth in PPR amongst running backs. That’s pretty good. But, the problem is a big part of his success was predicated on the fact of his receptions, right? He had 92 receptions on 108 targets. That’s a lot of stuff. And then eight receiving touchdowns, which is completely inflated and 993 receiving yards. His attempts only 132. So very low on the attempts, only three rushing touchdowns. So he’s not going to get a lot of rushing touchdowns, he’s not going to get that goal-line work. A lot of his success is predicated on if he’s going to receive the ball. Now the big question mark is if Tyrod Taylor gets to start, which he should be going into 2020 Fantasy Football and into the NFL season, if Tyrod gets to start, that’s going to be a bit of a concern to me because I’m not sold on Tyrod being a good quarterback at all and being able to consistently feed Ekeler the same way that Phillip Rivers did, Phillip Rivers now being with the Colts.
So this is a huge concern to me when I’m looking at drafting Austin Ekeler because especially if I’m investing a second-round pick. He’s going pretty early in a lot of mock drafts because he’s top 10 according to the mainstream consensus, the consheepsus rankings. So if I’m going to invest in him as technically my RB one, maybe even RB two, I need to see more consistent numbers. I need to know that offense is going to function efficiently and without Phillip Rivers there, I don’t know what I’m going to get. Not to mention this guy, he played backup had a good year understandably so. So there’s a lot of question marks with Ekeler. Again, for PPR he’s going to be phenomenal but when I look at a running back, especially in the first three rounds, and this is why I go with the robust RB strategy, I talk about this in my 16 round draft solution, this is the year to go robust because there’s a ton of volume at wide receiver. There’s a ton of volume, a ton of depth, I should say, in the drafts when you’re looking at quarterback and wide receiver. So when I’m looking at a guy like Austin Ekeler, I’m seeing a guy that catches the ball a lot but has been relatively inconsistent throughout the years. 2018 only when he played 14 games, just had 106 attempts for what, only three rushing touchdowns, and 554 yards? That year he only had 39 receptions. So he had this pinnacle year and so everybody’s putting him on this high platform like he’s going to perform really well. And you got guys like David Johnson, which was insane, this guy is going to be a workhorse who’s actually a full, true workforce, who’s a light years ahead in talent of Ekeler ranked well below Ekeler, right? I mean, it’s just absolutely insane.
So it’s very hard for me to trust this guy going into 2020 Fantasy Football because again, with the new situation with the quarterback, it’s only proved to us one year that he can really do it from a PPR standpoint. Now what I implemented as part of a robust RB strategy and get them and maybe have, let’s say a come back around this and get Ekeler around too. Now, I don’t even know where he’s even going because I’m not even targeting this guy. In round two, I get myself even a Leonard Fournette or even a Todd Gurley who is set for more volume and have proved that they can be workhorses. A guy like Ekeler, trust me, the ceiling’s high, believe me, from a PPR standpoint. But for me, let’s get to the verdict and let’s talk about this. Okay, I’m going to tell you, I’m going to stay away, period. I’m not going to draft Austin Ekeler. There’s a ton more guys, workhorses, still readily available in the second round that I can get. Like I said, Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette. So when you look at Ekeler, again, a lot of his numbers are inflated and you’ve got to watch this. So we’ve got to look at the copy and paste of every year, guys, the mainstream say, “Okay, these guys finish on top. Let’s draft them again.”
2020 Fantasy Projection
Now, they were pretty lenient on this guy. They dropped them a little bit because again he finished fourth, they dropped him down. His ADP is nine. So they’re saying, “Oh, we got to adjust. We got to bring other guys in.” So the consensus are kind of factoring in a bit of a decline from last year. So I’ll give them credit on that, that I won’t complain. There’s a pat on the back for the consensus. But when you’re looking at this guy in the top 10, there are so many guys that can finish ahead of him. Even David Montgomery whose average draft position is, guys believe this or not, you can get, as of right now, the filming of this, which is like late May when I filmed this, you can get David Montgomery in the fifth round, which is insane because that guy ran the ball over 242 times and he’s going to run it more because now he’s got to pull his head out of his bum.
So there you go guys. I mean, David Montgomery, I can get him in the fifth round. Why would I invest a second or even a third, let’s say he falls to the third round, pick an Austin Ekeler guy who’s been a backup? And then they acquired Kelly. Why would they even acquire a rookie, Joshua Kelly, if they believe in Austin Ekeler? And you say, “Why would you get Kelly if you believe in the mighty old Austin Ekeler?” They got Joshua Kelly because they don’t believe in this guy and they want to get a workhorse running back that’s going to get all the gold line work. I don’t see Ekeler getting that goal-line work. And I don’t see Tyrod Taylor feeding him 108 targets.
Now again, I could be completely wrong. Austin Ekeler could come out here and be the next Alvin Kamara, but so many people are drawing comparisons to Alvin Kamara. Alvin Kamara is a special tout who’s consistently been catching the ball 81 times on average a season, and he is a consistent guy who is in a system where yes he is in a committee, but that committee still allows Austin Ekeler to somehow manage to finish the year in, year out within the top 10. So that’s a whole different situation. Alvin Kamara, that is. But we’re looking at Austin Ekeler, I’m just not sold on him. That’s just the bottom line. I want to keep this really, really short and sweet with you guys because you do not want to fall into fool’s gold. Years I’ve been looking at this and I can see people that kind of have this boom type of year and they fall off. I genuinely believe that Austin Ekeler could be the guy that can get you in a trap because people are going to expect them to put up the same numbers he did last year with a different quarterback. I’m just not sold. And he got paid a little bit, I’m not sure the extent of his contract but he got paid pretty well. So I’m assuming last year he was really, really playing for that big deal and he got a fair deal. It’s not like a huge Ezekiel contract or anything like that, but he got paid. So a little bit more incentivized, maybe he’s going to lose a little bit of hunger, maybe this and that.
I’m sure he’s a nice guy and he is talented, but again, he was a backup for Melvin Gordon for a reason. He didn’t surpass Melvin Gordon. And when I’m looking at a guy, especially the top three picks, my first three picks in the draft, I want a guy that’s upper echelon, top tier, the elite of the elite. If he was all ultra-elite, this guy who would have passed Melvin Gordon, that’s the bottom line. He didn’t pass Melvin Gordon. He did not get the starting job over Melvin Gordon. And if he was better than Melvin Gordon, he would have started over Melvin Gordon.
That’s it. I don’t need to say anything else. I should’ve just started the video and said, “This guy never passed Melvin Gordon.” I don’t care if he’s starting now, I don’t care if he’s a full, true workhorse running back, which is a guy you should be drafting in the first round, should be a workhorse running back through and through then I’d say Ekeler. But again, 132 rushing attempts, 285 attempts in three years. Unacceptable. Unacceptable for me. I’m very picky with my first three picks. Okay, guys. So that’s it. I mean, let’s just keep it simple. I mean, it’s not brain surgery here. I’m just going to stay away. I’m just going to draft a guy who’s a complete workhorse, not a guy that was 34th. Sorry, what was he? Yeah, 34th in attempts last year, rushing attempts. No, no, no, no. I want a guy who’s top five in rushing attempts in the first three rounds if I’m selecting them, okay? So if he’s a second-round pick or a third-round pick for me, he’s got to be top five in rushing attempts. I am very, very particular with my running backs, okay?
So that’s the verdict guys. Austin Ekeler, I’m just going to stay away, I’m just going to avoid the uncertainty and that’s it. I’m ranting and raving because I want to get the point across here to you guys that you need those workhorse running backs, not guys that are unproven and that were backups that couldn’t surpass the guys ahead of them,. So that’s it, guys. Let me know, are you drafting him and dm me on my social platforms. Hopefully after this conversation, you are not going to draft Austin Ekeler. Make sure you guys are subscribed to this number one Fantasy Football podcast.
– The Counselor